The Top 6 Renovations that Yield the Greatest Value

Jul 06, 2016

Builder handyman with construction tools. House renovation background. Selling your home involves a lot more than placing a For Sale sign on your front lawn. In fact, sticking that sign in the grass will probably be the last thing you do. You’re likely looking around, asking yourself:

  • What do I have to do to get this house ready?
  • What should I renovate before listing my home for sale?
  • What’s worth it and what’s not?

Some renovations are applied in the hope of increasing a home’s price tag, but a good return on your investment is to ensure you’re choosing the right makeovers that will yield the greatest resale value, at an affordable cost to you.

By taking a behind-the-scenes tour of real estate listings, you’ll soon appreciate the many home renovations that owners have undertaken to get their house ready for the marketplace.

Best tips for renovating your home

If you’re concerned about resale value, a fresh paint job throughout the home can’t lose, but be sure to choose a relatively neutral paint tone and don’t go too wild when selecting countertops and cabinetry. Save the bright colours to use as paint accents or in removable objects, such as a wall print or pottery, to set off your room.

One important rule of thumb is to choose renovations that suit your home, your budget, and the area. You wouldn’t, for instance, put huge expense into a bathroom that exceeds a quarter of what the home is worth.

The idea is to recoup the most of your remodelling expenses at the time of resale. So, keep the renovation projects simple, pay to have it done correctly and don’t improve too much.

If you pay to have professionals do your home projects, never pay in cash. Without a proper paper trail, you won’t be able to call on them again if something goes wrong or they didn’t finish the job to your satisfaction.

Another tip is that mid- to lower-line priced materials and finishes could be smarter than elite-line treatments. Chances are that the new homeowners will make changes of their own, so go easy and concentrate on your home’s appearance that is tasteful, simple and clean.

Keeping the house up-to-date as you continue to live in it is always the homeowner’s best practice and will pay off at resale time.

The 6 renos you should do before talking to your agent

Despite the vast and varying amount of information, there are 6 key renovations that promise to yield the greatest value for you. They are:

Remodeling or upgrading your kitchen

Think smaller instead of bigger. Dream kitchens are remarkably expensive, so opt for an updated kitchen that is attractive, functional, clean, and modern. Beyond that—extra bells and whistles—you are probably wasting your money, as you’ll never get back the value you put into it.


The rule of the kitchen applies to your bathroom(s). A small amount of luxury or spotlessness in a bathroom, such as a shiny new tub or sparkling, mildew-free tiles, can go a long way toward adding to your listing price. No need to buy the most expensive tiles or an ultra-modern sink if it doesn’t match the rest of the house, and isn’t going to bring in a greater value. (In the grand scheme of things, a buyer isn’t going to pay more the home because of the bathroom sink.)

Curb appeal

The exterior of your home is so important. It’s the first impression to every potential buyer, so curb appeal projects add huge value to your home. Your project can be as simple as replacing a front door, giving your exterior a fresh, neutral coat of paint, replacing worn siding or broken patio stones.

And get rid of unsightly junk. Your potential buyer will drive by if you’ve made no effort to make your home look inviting.

Outdoor living space

The latest trends show that indoor living space has been extended to include out-of-doors, especially for summer viewings. For resale value, you don’t have to create an outdoor paradise, but do ensure your porch, balcony, or patio are all in good shape. Add splashes of colour with plants, candles, or light accents. Gorgeous throw cushions and clean patio furniture may be just the right touch to make a welcoming impression.

Windows & doors

What shape are your windows and doors in? These could be part of a larger resale investment if you haven’t kept them up-to-date. But you don’t have to choose state-of-the-art replacements to reap the rewards of those energy savings that will appeal to potential buyers. As long as your windows don’t look or act like something out of another era, you’re fine. That said, on some older, heritage homes, the original stained-glass windows could be a definite selling feature.


An old roof may keep you in those listings until you’ve replaced it. Even if you’re willing to lower the price of your home to match the cost of replacing the roof, buyers will still notice it, and dock the lowered price even further.

A foreseeable move down the road is foresight you can use to your advantage. In that case, always consider the added value of every renovation you do. It will save you valuable time, money, and needless stress at resale time.

Sponsored by Zoocasa.

Zoocasa is a real estate brokerage based in Toronto.

Sheila O’Hearn is a freelance and creative writer, and has worn many hats throughout her career, from general staff reporter to magazine editor. She has a keen interest in business entrepreneurship and currently writes for several outlets. Check out her LinkedIn for more info.

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